Book Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

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December 15, 2015
Welcome to December of Classics! A thing that I just made up because I inadvertently have been reading a lot of classics this month? So now it’s a thing and for the remainder of the month, I’ll be catching up on all those classics I was never forced to read in high school, and bettering my understanding of about 75% of idioms and phrases that most of the American population uses and that usually fly over my head.

First up, The Metamorphosis! Also known as the book that cemented my hate for humanity.

What I knew about this book is what basically everyone in the world knows about this book: A man wakes up one day to find out he’s become a giant bug. Giant bugs happen to be one of my worst irrational fears, so for the longest time, I never bothered to even think about reading this book because gross. But then my husband listened to the audiobook and he was so adamant on discussing it with me that I put my fears aside and read it.

It was disgusting and it broke my heart.

The opening lines of The Metamorphosis are enough to get you hooked. Gregor Samsa wakes up one day to find that his body is no longer human, but that of a giant insect. His main worry during this particular morning, though, is not his physical change but the fact that he has overslept and is late for work. He doesn’t care much for his job and he can’t wait for the day when he can afford to quit, but that day seems to be really far away since Gregor is in charge of providing for his parents and his sister, and is also in the process of paying off his parents debts.

This was the moment I was completely hooked on the story. The fact that Gregor seemed to be nonplussed about his change made no sense to me. Just put yourself in his position for a second and think, how would you react if one morning you woke up and realized you had turned into a giant bug overnight? How was he not freaking out? He just takes it in stride as one more crappy thing life has handed to him that he won’t let keep him from getting to work and starting his day as usual.

I wasn’t expecting to get so invested in this story and I ended up feeling very sympathetic towards that giant bug. It broke my heart seeing the gradual change in all the characters; Gregor, who was the family provider, now became and was made to feel like a burden on a family that loved being taken care of, but not so much returning the favor. He couldn’t communicate, though he still understood every word everyone said and that just drove him deeper into his isolation and depression, being aware of how soon everyone stopped treating him as a person and started seeing him as the useless and vile creature he had turned into.

Human nature, you are the worst.

It’s sad and unfortunate that it took that change for Gregor to realize the truth about the people he loved and cared for selflessly, but it also makes it almost funny that the giant cockroach is the character you end up sympathizing with and rooting for.

If you haven’t read The Metamorphosis yet, go do it right now! The book is a classic for a reason.

2 comments on "Book Review: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka"
  1. The Metamorphosis is one of my favourite books. I remember reading it in highschool and thinking of it as just a very weird novel. But after rereading it I saw it from a new perspective and fell in love with the book.

    1. I think if I had read this in highschool, I wouldn't have gotten the message Kafka was trying to get across, so I'm glad I came upon it in my late 20s!


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